Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Baader Meinhof Complex

The Baader Meinhof Gang (or Red Army Faction) were a West German terrorist group that grabbed a lot of headlines when I was at school and The Baader Meinhof Complex is a docu-drama that fills in background to those headlines. The film shows us how the some of the key players got together, in particular Ulrike Meinhof, Gudrun Ensslin and Andreas Baader. They saw the public apathy in West Germany to ex-Nazis in senior positions, to human rights struggles in the 3rd world, to American militancy around the world and a swing towards right wing authoritarian politics in West Germany as the rise of fascism again. They didn't want to repeat Germany's mistake in the 1930s. Starting with normal protests and public meetings and publications their tactics became more violent after a protester was shot by a policeman and an assassination attempt on a student leader.

The most dramatic scene in the film is the visit of the Shah of Iran to West Berlin in 1967 where a bus load of suit wearing Iranian security guards attack the public and protesters with lengths of wood while the German police look on. Minutes later the German police join in on the side of the security guards.

The only character that the film follows on the government side, is head of West German police Horst Herold, who while always confident that the police will eventually catch all the terrorists is also sure that the police can't stop other people coming to the same political conclusions. The film follows the 3 RAF leaders through their arrest and trial to their deaths in prison, but it never gets inside the minds of West German government, nor the public, except to say the polls say that sympathy for the RAF reached 25% at one point.

Ian's rating 4/5

Not everyone liked this film as much as I did. Though Steve Garden's reaction is that the world is divided into those that agree with him and stupid people. It must be nice to be able to classify the world so simply.

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